Wild Horse was one of the first major commercial vineyards in the Paso Robles area of the Central Coast here in California. Started by Ken Volk in 1982 and purportedly named after the herds of wild horses that roam the hills behind the estate, the winery has grown to be one of the largest and well known producers in the area, at a volume of 140,000 cases. In 2003 it was acquired by Peak Wines International, and became part of a family of wineries that include Geyser Peak.
Up until recently I had only had their Pinot Noir, which they are well known for. I think their Pinot is somewhere between above average and very good, and a generally good bet from the region. However, I have been consciously trying to drink a bit more Merlot, so when I saw this in the market the other day I decided to give it a try.
One of the interesting things about this Merlot, and potentially one of the things which I think makes it less than successful for me is the fact that it is a blend of quite a few varietals. The 2001 is comprised of 88.9% Merlot, 4.1% Cabernet Franc, 2.8% Pinot Noir, 2.7% Malbec, 1.0% Petite Verdot, and .5% Syrah, all of which adds up to either an extremely creative blending regimen or a scattered and unfocused wine, depending on your point of view. The winemakers believed these additions would "improve the mouthfeel and lengthen the finish," but in my opinion, a Merlot's finish can't be helped just through a little blending.
The 14,000 cases of this wine were aged in French, American, and Hungarian Oak.
A nice dark garnet color in the glass this wine sports aromas of toasted oak, dried cherries, black plums, and light tobacco. In the mouth it continues with (somewhat thin) flavors of plums and black cherries with a somewhat heavy note of green wood amidst very mild tannins. The finish brings in some elements of redcurrant and is heavy on the toasted oak, which is how I would characterize the whole wine -- a little too much wood without enough lush fruit to balance it out.
Because of the oak on this one I would suggest it be paired with something that has a sweet or a fruit character. A good match might be this calf's liver with apples and onions.
Overall Score: 7.5/8
How Much?: $15
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Wine and Beauty Explained San Francisco's Lost Sommeliers Finding Pirate Treasure With a Corkscrew Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 1, 2015 Vinography Images: Sonoma Spring Siduri Wines: Rewarding the Search for Flavor Vinography Unboxed: Week of February 22, 2015 Vinography Images: Frost and Fog The Glory of 2013 Napa Cabernet: Tasting Premiere Napa Valley A Dose of Claret: Visiting With 2010 Bordeaux
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune